School administrators neglect children’s needs while threatening lawmakers at Olympia meeting

March 13, 2013 in Blog

In Olympia Sunday Representative Ross Hunter (D-Medina) and Senator Bruce Dammeier (R-Puyallup) discussed the state budget at a meeting of school administrators and school board directors.

Some members of new Charter School Commission may not support charter schools

March 11, 2013 in Blog

Government insiders know that a common way to undermine a new program is for its opponents to manage it. The opponents are then in a good position to hamper the program's success or to encourage its failure.

The authors of Initiative 1240, the voter-approved charter school laws, were well aware of this danger. For that reason they included a direction regarding the Charter School Commission under Section 208, now RCW 28A.710.070(3), which says:

More on grading schools A through F

March 7, 2013 in Blog

I’ve received some comments about my blog post of yesterday that referred to grading schools A through F as “Governor Inslee’s proposal.” Last year, then-candidate Inslee proposed grading schools A through F.

Senate passes Governor Inslee’s A through F school grading proposal

March 6, 2013 in Blog

This morning the Senate passed SB 5328, which would create a pilot program to implement Governor Inslee’s A through F school grading proposal by giving letter grades to schools in five school districts. School grades would be based on the State Achievement Index and on schools’ progress toward improvement. The bill passed 26 to 23.

A through F grading system benefits Centralia schools

March 4, 2013 in Blog

On March 1st, Amy Nile of The Chronicle (Centralia) reported the benefits of the Achievement Index, which rates Washington’s schools based on student learning. 

Groups seek to stop new charter school law

February 27, 2013 in Blog

As many of my readers know, I have been closely following the behind-the-scenes efforts by charter school opponents to undo voter-passed Initiative 1240 and stop charter schools from opening in our state. In the latest round, executives at the Washington Education Association union, League of Women Voters and El Centro de la Raza are seeking a lawsuit to overturn the Initiative and prevent any children in Washington from attending a charter school.

Governor Inslee supports letter grades for schools

February 19, 2013 in Blog

There’s a lot of buzz about Senator Litzow’s bill, SB 5328, to implement a state ranking system to give A through F letter grades to public schools, so families and taxpayers can know where their local school stands.

What grade would your school get?

February 13, 2013 in Blog

Today, using an idea endorsed by leaders of both parties, Washington Policy Center publishes letter grades for schools on the Washington State Public School Achievement Index. The Index is based on the State Board of Education Achievement Index, accessible here.

Even though the idea of assigning letter grades to schools has wide appeal, state government has yet to adopt the idea.

Senator Tom speaks eloquently on education

February 7, 2013 in Blog

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue), spoke eloquently today on education reform and presented encouraging ideas for change. After noting that the large increases in education spending over the last eight years have resulted in flat graduation rates and a widening opportunity gap, Senator Tom said:

"We don't want to come back to parents, students, and others saying, 'We failed you for another eight years because all we did was put more money into the system.'  It is not about money..." 

Ideas to improve schools are coming from moderates in the center and on the right

February 6, 2013 in Blog

Peter Callaghan has an insightful article in the Tacoma News Tribune on the state of education reform today. Interestingly, Callaghan notes that at first Democratic governors led efforts to challenge the status quo of mediocre public schools back in the 1980s. Yet today, as reactionary unions remain the primary obstacle to reform, the most exciting education ideas are now coming from coalitions of concerned people from the center and the center right.

Dr. Roza says more money can help schools, but need to spend it smarter

January 28, 2013 in Blog

Professor Roza responds below to my blog post about her valuable testimony before the Senate K12 Education Committee.  She provides a link to it.  Her full presentation is well worth watching.  --Liv

More money doesn't help school children, says UW professor

January 28, 2013 in Blog

A single data chart caused a big stir last week when Professor Marguerite Roza of the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the U.W. presented her findings to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. Professor Roza's presentation only happened because the Committee is under new leadership. Senator Steve Litzow (R–Mercer Island) is allowing committee members to see briefing materials and consider bills that were previously blocked under the chairmanship of Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell).

Why the District is failing the MAP test

January 22, 2013 in Blog

The education policy world is abuzz with news that teachers at four Seattle schools are refusing to give their students the mandatory Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test.  See Linda Shaw’s latest here. 

The New Openness in Olympia - Blocked Education Reforms Get a Hearing

January 18, 2013 in Blog

Wednesday afternoon a blast of cold, fresh air blew through a Senate hearing room in Olympia.  New ideas for improving public schools were allowed a hearing.  Under the leadership of Senator Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island), the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee convened its first meeting.  Former Chair of the Committee, Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell), looked on as ideas she had blocked for years were openly discussed. 

Garfield High teachers refuse to use MAP test

January 11, 2013 in Blog

Well-connected Melissa Westbrook breaks the story that teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle have unanimously refused to comply with the Seattle School District’s mandate to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test.

Kris McBride, The Academic Dean and Testing Coordinator at Garfield, explains: